How do biofilms form?

This is part 2 in a series of posts about Biofilms.

Where Biofilms Form

Biofilms happily colonize many household surfaces in the bath and kitchen, including toilets, sinks, countertops, and cutting boards. Poor disinfection practices and ineffective cleaning products may increase the incidence of illnesses associated with pathogenic organisms encountered during normal household activity.

Basically, they can form on any damp surface which has not been properly cleaned. From an oral health point of view, they form on the tooth surface, both root and crown.

How Biofilms Form

  • Free-swimming bacterial cells land on a surface, arrange themselves in clusters, and attach.
  • The cells begin producing a gooey matrix.
  • The cells signal one another to multiply and form a microcolony.
  • The microcolony promotes the coexistence of diverse bacterial species and metabolic states.
  • Some cells return to their freeliving form and escape, perhaps to form new biofilms.

In this way, biofilms can spread over large areas of surface if given enough time. In an oral health setting, it is possible to detect biofilm (plaque) formation just 20 minutes after you have cleaned your teeth.

Next time, we will write about the effects of uncontrolled biofilm and how to control it.

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